Summer 1981 • Vol. III No. 3 NonfictionJuly 1, 1981 |

Letter to Peter Wood

The Birthday Party was Harold Pinter's first full-length play. It opened its out-of-town try-out run at the Arts Theatre in Cambridge on 28 April 1958, came to the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, in London on 19 May and closed on 24 May, having, in that fairly large house, taken only a grand total of two hundred and sixty pounds, eleven shillings and eight pence for the whole week's run. Like all truly original and innovative works of art the play bewildered and disconcerted its audience and—as we can see from Harold Pinter's letter to the director printed here—its director and actors as well. The Birthday Party seemed to many members of its first audiences to start off as a thriller, a mystery play; but, then, it failed to keep its promise: it provided no solution to the mystery. What had Stanley, that amiable but weak young man, done to make him hide away in a sleazy seaside boardinghouse, where he was being mothered by a possessive elderly landlady; and what brought the two s

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